Pioneer Hi-Bred patent protects soybean varieties

Pioneer Hi-Bred is patenting some of its seed traits now that Monsanto’s patents on genetics for Roundup Ready crops are starting to expire.

The move ensures that farmers continue to annually invest in the company’s genetics.

The last Monsanto owned patent ends in 2014, with most having expired in 2011. Monsanto is offering a new generation of genes that will remain a patented line.

However, many seed companies have successful lines of seed that will keep the original glyphosate tolerant gene.

Pioneer Hi-Bred Canada president Ian Grant said his company is patenting some of the traits that it has bred into its existing soybeans.

“The ever-green contracts that producers signed with us for the (technology use agreements) still stand and we will adopt that relationship for our patented traits, so farmers don’t have to renew those agreements,” he said.

“It takes about seven years to develop a new variety with traits that deliver benefits to the grower and to ensure that we cover those R and D costs and have profitable products, we needed to address the issue of single-use seed.”

Soybeans, unlike most of the canola and corn genetics in the marketplace, are not hybrids and as a result seed yields don’t fall significantly from year to year when seed is kept for the next season.

The company released 33 new soybean varieties last week, including 900Y61, which has resistance to phyophthora, handles iron deficiency chlorosis well, has moderate white mould protection and is suited to Manitoba’s Red River Valley.

It and the current lineup of Pioneer soybeans will carry the new patent protection.

Monsanto said some plant breeders will carry both Roundup Ready and Roundup Ready 2 lines into the future, and it will not prosecute producers who replant those crops that have expired patent genetics.

However, many plant breeding companies and university breeders have also placed restrictions on saved seed through plant breeders’ rights and contractual agreements.

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